Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Richard the card King

Originally uploaded by coljen.
In every game we play that feature cards or card collecting, Ticket to Ride springs to mind, Richard seems to have an uncanny knack of collecting fistfuls of the little blighters. And last night was no exception. As you can see from the picture, his enormous hand of cards totalling 19...........somebody roll a 7............pleeeaase!!!

I think he did get caught a couple of times but it didn’t seem to make any difference, he still seemed to have the cards he needed.

Great Wall of China - End position

Originally uploaded by coljen.
As I couldn’t build any more settlements I had to make do with upgrading the three that I had and resort to buying development cards for the rest of the points. Unfortunately Garry was in a similar position, although he had build more settlements than me, and those dev cards soon disappeared. Oh, by the way, Richard did play a monopoly on wheat and ended with fistfuls of the stuff. As usual Natalie had achieved the longest road. You can see from the pic the hordes of huns massing ready to over run the wall. Richard had built his section to it’s maximum strength so he at least was pretty safe.

Final Scores
Natalie 10, Neil 5, Steve 5, Colin 7, Garry 8, Richard 8

Tuesday 23rd March - Settlers of Catan, Great Wall of China

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Well, we had a full complement of six players for the the trip to the Great Wall of China. First time for a few weeks for one reason or another. None of us had played this particular version of SofC, and Garry had only played SofC once before. So it was pretty much a level playing field to start. I hope Greg Schloesser doesn’t mind that I nicked a bit of his description from BGG. He does it so much better than me!

In The Great Wall, players represent factions in ancient China, attempting to extend their influence and control. However, there is always the great fear of the northern Huns, who are intent on invading Chinese provinces, plundering, pillaging and looting the countryside as they penetrate ever deeper into the country. Thus, players are charged with the task of erecting the Great Wall, increasing the border fortifications to help prevent these violent incursions.

In addition to the normal two settlements and roads that players construct at the beginning of the game, each player also has a border settlement, located along the edge of China and barbarian territory. Each of the warlords (the players!) is charged with securing that section of the border by erecting fortifications. Players must dedicate resources in order to build each section, the type and amount of resource varying with each subsequent upgrade. Failure to construct adequate fortifications will likely result in a barbarian invasion, costing the inattentive warlord to lose victory points. Thus, it is in the best interests of the players to devote resources in the construction of the Great Wall.

So the initial placement of the settlements are even more crucial as I was to find out. The actual space on the board for expansion and building is pretty limited, especially with 6 players. Steve’s border settlement was on the extreme left of the board in the photo, and he opted to build another settlement rather than to reinforce his section of the wall. This proved to be costly as a very weird run of dices rolls incited the huns to break through a total of 4 times during the game. This incurs minus VPs and the wall being reduced as well.
Well one of the settlements that Steve had built initially had cut my options considerably and during the game I never got to build any other settlements than the 3 that I built at the start. I managed to build 3 road sections to the only other viable position and Natalie promptly zoomed and built before I had a chance. Ah, well. .... So this version has a few twists and turns, the development cards become more valuable as you can use the soldier card to move the pirate, remove hun tokens or move hun tokens around before they overrun the wall. Actually the pile of development cards was depleted before the game finished. At around 2 and half hours Natalie managed to get the final upgrade to take her to 10 points. At one stage it looked like that the huns were going to breach the wall the 7 times needed to end the game and nobody is the winner!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

No Billygames so more waffle from me

Well, I wasn’t going to be at Billygames this week anyway. I had some horrible dental work and didn’t think I would feel like playing so had already cried off. 4 injections, 2 x-rays and a root filling in a 30 minute appointment. I have to go back in a month for a 45 minute appointment. God knows, what he’s going to to then. Not looking forward to that then. Apparently the session was called off at the last minute due to illness. The game slated for playing was another session of Roborally, as I have said before, not one of my favourites. So next week it will be Richard’s choice of game and provisionally full attendance is expected. What will Richard choose I wonder, I know he likes the meatier type of gamer’s game but with six players it does limit the choice a bit.

I wrote a little while ago about the list of gaming blogs on BGG. Well, on this blog I have a hit counter and you can look at the stats and see who’s been on. It’s surprising the number of hits we’ve been getting and from all round the world as well. I thought I would mention a few that are definitely worth having a look at.

First off we have Naturelich.

Especially if you are a fan of Ticket To Ride. There is a lot about this game and all the fan produced boards. As well as interesting stuff about music and movies.

An interesting site from Alaska is &games.

Great chat about games and life in Alaska.

Spiel: Boardgames in the UK is Gary Lloyd’s blog.

Again another site well worth a visit. Great stuff about gaming in the UK.

Well, that’s only three but there are loads of others and I will try to mention some more in the future. Til next time, have fun.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Roborally Boards

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Here is a close-up of the Roborally boards that were played. As I said this game is not one of my favourites, in fact, I won’t play it. Quite a lot of other players enjoy it a lot though. Er..... that must say something I’m not sure what.

Roborally Report

Originally uploaded by coljen.
As I said previously, I didn’t make it to Billygames this week. So......introducing guest reporter, Natalie. These are comments she made as the game progressed. Take it away Nat.

This is not really a write-up, more some notes we/I made along the way:

Garry had not played before and it had been ages since Steve had played and so we spent a little while going over the rules. Richard chose two boards which were not the hardest but also not the easiest. Garry was the first to die - when he played his first card! What better way to learn? Steve initially seemed to be bullet-proof, not taking damage for many turns and, the first time he was hurt he was shot twice in one turn but ended the turn on a double spanner and so healed both points of damage.

Richard seems to have been the one to concentrate on option cards and managed to draw three offensive cards, even though he drew the latter two after losing the first by dying. Neil was squished by a crusher on his second turn.

I managed to program the wrong robot early on and never really caught up after that but it was still a blast. It was quite some time before anyone fell off the board. I think that we all managed to avoid falling in a pit. During one turn, while he was powered down, Garry was shot six times and so returned with six damage when he powered up. Steve was in the lead for a long time but, suddenly, had gone down to three cards (6 damage). I got squished by a crusher and had not managed to make any check-points and so came back on at flag 1. The next turn after that, both Steve and Richard fell off the board!
Richard persevered, however, and won the game without anyone really noticing. We were all to busy trying to stay alive to be able to try to stop him.
At the end of the game, everyone was, miraculously, on the board!

Final Scores
Player, Flag, Lives, Damage
Richard, 4 (all), 2, 2
Steve, 3, 2, 4
Garry, 2, 3, 3
Natalie, 1, 3, 0
Neil, 1, 2, 1

Thanks to Natalie for all the info. I don’t think I shall make it next week either so maybe I can persuade Natalie to step into the breach again!

Tuesday March 8th - Roborally & Magic Online stuff

I have got a really bad cold so didn’t make it to Billygames yesterday. I think that while I was absent Natalie took the opportunity to pick Roborally, a game I really don’t like and will avoid if at all possible. So, until I get some results/report from someone who was there you’ll have to put up with me waffling on. On the topic of gaming blogs, aren’t there a lot of them. I have a read of quite a few of them to see what other gaming groups are playing and their take on games that Billygames have played too. At the moment on Boardgame Geek someone is compiling a list of gaming blogs. Nice to see that ‘My Games Journal’ is listed. Having just typed that I realise what a really lame title that is. I may have to think about changing it to something witty/relevant about games.
Sometime in the distant past on this blog I wrote a bit about Magic Online. Well, I’m still playing, only casual not leagues, drafts or any other format that needs money. lol. To be honest, as Wizards release a new expansion every 3 months you could end up spending a fortune on digital product, as it’s called. I had enough of that in my year’s playing paper Magic. Before you realise what is happening you have spent a wad just to stay competitive. Whenever a new expansion comes out I have a look at the 4 precon decks and read a few forum posts about them. Whichever one looks the most fun I purchase with 10 or 15 tickets. If you don’t know what tickets are they are the Magic Online version of currency. You can use tix to pay for entry to events and to trade for cards on the marketplace. Anyway, that’s what I do, trade for cards to tweak the precon to make it a bit more competitive. I don’t expect to win all the time, heck, I don’t expect to win 75% of the time. I do win about 50% of the time and have fun as well.
There are a few guys from the States that I regularly play with. I only go on at the weekends. As I don’t get home from work until 7.45pm I don’t think the wife would appreciate me wolfing down dinner and disappearing upstairs to the computer room for a few hours of Magic. Anyway one guy is a welder on night work and about when I log on he’s there, just finished a 10 hour night and straight online to play Magic. Phew. Nice guy though.
If anyone out there that reads this and plays Magic Online you can find me online Saturday or Sunday mornings in the casual room. Look out for coljen. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Taj Mahal Midgame

Originally uploaded by coljen.
This the mid game board position, you can see on the left of the picture that Steve has already gained 2 provinces.

Taj Mahal End Game

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Board position at the end of the game. Although there seems to be a predominance of blue palaces (Richard) the leaders, Steve and Neil are Red and Brown respectively.

Tuesday March 1st - Taj Mahal

Originally uploaded by coljen.
Billygames treks off to India this week to play Renier Knizia’s Taj Mahal. We have played this game twice before, 10/09/02 when Neil triumphed and 14/01/03 when the dear departed Dave came out the winner. By departed of course I mean he isn’t able to make it these days not he’ know brown bread. Anyway as usual here’s a brief description from BGG.

Another game in Alea's bookcase series, this game takes place in India. There are twelve turns with an auction for up to six different prizes each turn. Players use cards to bid for the various prizes. The trick is when you take a turn and you've got the highest bid on a prize, you can either spend more cards to try for other things or simply take your winnings and walk away. The prizes are mostly positions on the board and players get more points for connecting provinces on the map. But as becoming typical for Herr Knizia, there are several other ways of scoring points in this game. After the final area on the board is auctioned, the player with the highest point total takes the game.

Neil managed to gain control of the Princess and used her to his advantage for a few turns taking an early lead. He also came last (or first, depends how you look at it) in 3 out of the first 4 auctions only picking up one card each time. Richard seemed to have absolute control over the mogul for most of the game, as usual he also had a fistful of does he do that!! Steve also had a wad of cards and gradually overhauled Neil to take the lead.
I think Steve ended up winning 4 provinces and at least 2 goods chits which gave him a very healthy score. I made a mistake going head to head with Steve for control of a province, he was on my left with a handful of cards which meant I had to concede before he did. I was at the back at that time and my position didn’t improve. In the end it came down to a battle between Neil and Steve. Richard had built up an impressive network of palaces but couldn’t in the end catch up. Garry hadn’t played the game before, but picked it up quickly and had a good game, and said that he enjoyed his first visit to India!

Final Scores
Steve 39, Neil 38, Richard 34, Garry 30, Colin 29